A simple, fun instruction manual for living a more joy-filled, authentic life!
By one of the most admired spiritual teachers in the country, this book shows us how every moment, experience, and person can be an opening for our soul. Separated into three easy-to-use parts, this book will:
- Tell a fable that puts our spiritual journey into context
- Discuss the seven spiritual principles that are universal to the world’s wisdom traditions
- Show how nine specific challenges and difficulties (such as fear, illness, and change) can be transformed from stumbling blocks into stepping stones
Filled with advice that can come only from a lifetime of practicing these traditions, this book will be an indispensable guide to people who want more from their lives.
From the Hardcover edition.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
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|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
From the Hardcover edition.
Read an Excerpt
Openings into Life Mastery:
A Short Story
He was a seeker. Always had been. Earlier in life his all-consuming search was for more . . . more recognition, money and possessions, friends and lovers, opportunities and advancement, pleasures and satisfaction—what he had come to believe was “the good life.” And he had achieved a fairly good measure of success in most of these areas. Lately, however, he could no longer run away from or deny a desperate feeling of hollowness that saturated most of his waking moments. Everything acquired thus far not only failed to deliver much joy, it seemed only to intensify his yearning. Now he began to search for something beyond . . . for a better way, higher meaning, greater fulfillment. He worked hard at his labors and tried to live a good life, yet he was haunted by the beckoning of this something beyond. He couldn’t quite define it, but it was real in his heart.
Sometimes he felt close to the discovery, but lately it felt more out of reach than ever. This seeming lack of progress was unsettling, disheartening, frustrating. Self-doubt washed over him and he wondered if the searching was mere fantasy or a ceaseless dissatisfaction with life. Maybe it was time to give up, let it all go, find a way to make do.
Then he heard the news: an awakened one—a keeper of the mystic keys to truth, happiness, and freedom—was traveling in this region. Few, they said, had been allowed to speak with this lofty soul, but many had been comforted and blessed just by being in this one’s presence. The seeker’s heart leapt. He knew he had to sit at the feet of this master, no matter what it required of him. Though his pursuit took several weeks of arduous travel, his determination brought him successfully to the awakened one’s encampment. The seeker pleaded so fervently that the attendants were moved to convene a special council. Finally they announced that the seeker would be granted an unprecedented audience the next morning. He rejoiced and hardly slept at all.
At dawn’s first light, he was ushered away from the main camp to a clearing in the forest. Sitting by a small fire was the great sage, enfolded in a hooded white robe. The seeker knelt on the other side of the fire, lost control, and began to sob. Then he caught his breath, composed himself, and told of his lifelong searching . . . the passion, the relentlessness, and, lately, the frustration.
When finished, he felt pangs of embarrassment from this uncontrolled litany. He looked up in time to see the great one pull back the hood of the robe. The seeker was stunned. The master before him was a woman, and her radiance immediately sent waves of warmth flooding over him. Her features expressed the essence of feminine energy . . . gentle yet powerful, ageless, wizened, compassionate. It was not what he had expected, yet somehow he knew it was exactly what he needed.
She began to speak, but not of simple answers. Instead, she offered him an opportunity if he was up to it, a chance to challenge himself beyond anything he’d attempted thus far. Would he be willing to be placed in a situation in which he would have to find a way out . . . an experience that would force him to find a different approach? There was a risk, she explained. He could get lost in this experience, languish, or even perish in it. As he considered her invitation he felt a tightening of fear . . . followed by a greater quickening of anticipation. He agreed to submit himself to this unknown trial. After all, how could it be worse than the constant gnawing he felt most of his days?
Sensing the seeker’s sincerity, the awakened one rose and moved slowly before him. She lifted her hands and placed them upon his forehead. The seeker was immediately plunged into an alternate reality. He felt himself accelerating beyond control down some sort of passageway or corridor. After a while he slowed, but was then thrust into a very dark space. When he fell to its floor, the space closed all around him and he lay stunned in a cavernous darkness. When his eyes adjusted, he could barely make out that he was, indeed, trapped in a cave. Where was the lesson in this? he wondered.
After a while he began to look for a way out of this place. His hands groped all over the walls, looking for an opening of any kind. But he couldn’t find any. Just when he thought he was lost and destitute, a minimal serving of food and water appeared as if by magic. This sustained him as he continued to search for a way out. He lost all track of time and marked his days by the appearance of his meal. At one point, he began to climb up little crevices in the wall, thinking that an opening might be near the ceiling of this cave. But again he found nothing and several times fell back to the floor. Day after day he searched. He scoured every inch of the place to no avail. He felt totally trapped and bruised in so many ways.
As dark as was the cave, after a while the seeker stumbled into an even darker place within himself. He became uncontrollably angry. He shouted, cursed, and railed against God, against the sage by the campfire, against life itself. Then he turned on himself, verbally lacerating himself as a miserable, lost, worthless being. No wonder he was cast into this living hell. After ranting for who knows how long, he collapsed in utter dejection and hopelessness. He felt like he was melting into the floor of the cave, into nothingness.
There was no more fight in him.
It was then that he realized something that gave him his first sense of relief in a long time: it wasn’t his entrapment that was the real problem; it was the nature of his searching . . . forceful, controlling, violent in its own way. He came to understand for the first time that this kind of searching was futile, even damaging. It made finding an opening more elusive than ever. It was getting him nowhere, wearing him out. And . . . it was preparing him for something else.
Having played out so much within himself, he now felt empty . . . in a good way. No longer did he scrutinize the walls, ceiling, and floor of the cave. He closed his eyes and became still. He asked for help and surrendered his resistance to the unknown. He made his awareness pliable and let go of his certainties and judgments . . . about everything.
Then it began: The seeker perceived a light gently glowing within him. How had he not seen this before? He took his whole attention there and gave himself to the light’s allure. He felt himself moving again but in a different way . . . expanding. The cave could no longer confine him. He didn’t leave it, really; he grew bigger. The cave of darkness began to shrink into a small space within him while, at the same time, he began to enlarge as an extension of the light. The illusion was that he was within the cave; now he knew that, in truth, the cave was within him, and at that very moment, he was free. His opening was found not through overcoming, but by becoming . . . becoming more than the dark place. It was the realization of realizations: The way out was not “out there” but “in here.” A portal to a more expansive and powerful reality, a Light, was within him—then, and in every situation, all the time, no matter what.
He relaxed and opened his eyes. To his surprise, he was sitting by that campfire again in the presence of the revered sage. He looked deeply into her eyes and she smiled knowingly. Now he understood. A deep and marvelous Joy surged forth from the wellspring he had discovered within himself . . . and he, too, smiled.
As with most teaching stories and parables, this is my story, your story, everyone’s story. We are all seekers, not because something is missing that we must struggle to find. We search for more because we are made of more, so much more than we usually know. We are participants in greater dimensions of reality than we realize when trapped in worldly, ego-oriented awareness. There are times when human experience is really difficult and painful. But have you ever sensed that something in your approach might be making it even more troublesome . . . and that there is a pathway of life mastery that could not only free you but also evolve you? Have you sensed a deep calling to discover and master more enlightened ways?
Consider this: in our hardened world and our busy lives . . . amid our problems, issues, and troubles with others . . . there are openings. These openings are higher realizations that create inner actualizations. When we see the opening’s light, even as an inner ember, and let these higher realizations have their way with us, we are ushered into greater frequencies of awareness and expanded dimensions of life mastery.
It is then that we experience more lofty and powerful aspects of the authentic Self, our spiritual nature, and its profound capacities.
It is then that we have the wherewithal to open to more effective responses and answers.
It is then that we know, with certainty, that there is that Something within us that is always greater than anything facing us.
It is then that we expand and transcend.
It is then that we can find light in the darkness and open up to a limitless storehouse of opportunities and possibilities.
It is then that we become the healers and peacemakers that God, the Creative Source of all Life, has designed each of us to be.
It is then, as a mystic put it, that we “let God be God—in, through, and as us.”
When circumstances seem very dark, it is transforming to remember that all things are more than they seem to be . . . and that you are more than you seem to be. There is a way to find openings into life mastery that are different from the “usual” approaches. It is not found by aggressive searching or by fighting, resisting, or attacking whatever is going on. It is not found by hiding or suppressing aspects of ourselves. In the language of integral philosophy, the more powerful approach is to transcend and include. It is being willing to grow larger in awareness than the dark spaces, ever mindful that though the dark spaces may be reduced, they do continue to reside within us. In the language of spiritual psychology, this is embracing the rejected or disowned parts of us—the shadow—just as the seeker finally quit fighting parts of himself. In this way, we embrace all that we are and are freed to expand into greater dimensions of awareness and livingness. A greater light guides our way into newness, wholeness, and mastery.
There are times in life to push forward, to make things happen, to take a dominating approach. This is the masculine dynamic in full expression, and it is also the foremost strategy employed throughout most aspects of Western culture. In fact, to take any other approach is very often ridiculed, much as introversion is often erroneously held to be inferior to extroversion. However, our cultural imbalance toward the masculine has produced significant shortcomings and challenges. Since every person is a composite of masculine and feminine qualities, true mastery calls for a balancing of these modes of being. There are, equally, times to cease resisting, to allow, to expand, to become more—engaging the wisdom of the feminine—rather than to demand, attack, or coerce things. Most inner growth occurs when the feminine dynamic is introduced to balance the masculine, and it is becoming more and more clear that the most powerful arrangement is for the feminine aspect of each of us to be in overall leadership on our path, with the masculine toolkit being utilized wisely to bring forth results when this is appropriate. At the collective level, a renewal of the leadership of the divine Feminine is now essential for the evolution of humanity as we seek openings into greater peace and well-being for all.
Most often, the caves that trap and limit us are our definitions and judgments of things. By insisting on these limiting definitions and judgments, we stay trapped, frustrated, and bruised. The opening is found by discovering and embracing a more expansive realization of what is going on and who we are. By dissolving the illusion that life’s fullness and greatness is missing, we free ourselves from the unyielding and debilitating search for more and better. Then a greater potential can be birthed, suppressed magic can be unleashed. Situations begin to transform as awareness expands. Miracles, healings, and serendipity emerge without all the struggle and aggressiveness. What unfolds is of a higher order than what otherwise would have been. There is the wondrous realization that, in this process, we have become instruments of something greater—call it God, Spirit, Love, Truth, or whatever you choose. This is the next stage of human evolution, for we are the enlightened ones we have been seeking. That is what this book is all about.
What follows in the next two parts is a rich set of opportunities to move from searching to becoming . . . to discover and move through life-empowering openings. These openings complement one another and can lead us into the experience of powerful new dimensions of mastery. This mastery is not acquiring something missing, nor is it a conquering of opponents or obstacles; it is an empowering of our awareness of what life really is, who we really are, and how we can create a masterful relationship with anything that might seem to block our progress. You will learn how to go from resistance to transcendence.
Part Two will support you in moving through openings into truth . . . giving you a more expansive and empowered understanding of reality that alone can change and up-level everything. Then, Part Three will give you the keys for transforming the difficult situations we all encounter on life’s journey. You will be equipped with insights and tools to enhance your awareness. You will be shown how to grow beyond old limitations and how to create openings for healings and blessings greater than you might ever have imagined. Each chapter begins with “The Essence,” core realizations about that particular opening . . . followed by “The Experience,” how that opening has been discovered or used in life experiences . . . and then “The Expression,” ways you can activate and move through each opening.
It is all about moving into the masterful You! The spiritual teacher and writer Ernest Holmes offered a pivotal reminder: That which you are searching for . . . you are searching with. Twentieth-century Indian guru Ramana Maharshi also declared: There is no greater mystery than this . . . that we keep seeking Reality though, in fact, we are Reality. May the teachings in this book become for you dynamic openings into all things great, gracious, and glorious! And may your pilgrimage to enlightenment bring you into the presence of your very own Awakened Self.
(Author’s Note: Throughout this book, I capitalize certain words, such as Love, Truth, Self, etc., to designate the divine, spiritual, or universal dimensions of these terms, as contrasted with their worldly, human, or more limited scope.)
Seven Pillars of Truth
Essential Spiritual Principles for Building a Powerful and Beautiful Life
1. THIS INSTANT IS LOVE
God is Love; and they that dwell in Love, dwell in God, and God in them.
—1 JOHN 4:16
Love is the central flame of the universe, nay the very fire itself. . . . The essence of Love, while elusive, pervades everything, fires the heart, stimulates the emotions, renews the soul and proclaims the Spirit. Only Love knows Love, and Love knows only Love.
– The Essence –
On the pathway toward awakening, there is a Great Prayer that every soul eventually prays in words unique to each heart. My heart prays:
Free me, O God, from the deep trance . . . the web we humans have spun and in which I am now caught . . . the illusion that your Love is somehow distant or absent from this world, from my life . . . and that I am no longer what you made me to be. Free me from this trance and initiate me anew into the vast and ever-present Reality of Your endless and all-embracing Love . . . that the fountain of my heart might open up again and overflow onto parched and barren human-scapes that cry out for greening. Yes free me, O God, that I might realize:
— This Instant IS Love. —
Everything shifts and transforms when you activate the awareness that this very instant is Love. This is the supreme opening into greater peace, power, and plenty. This is so much more than romantic, emotional, or sexual love. This is divine and unconditional Love. It is the ultimate and only Reality. It is God in essence and expression, and our highest path is to continually open to greater experiences of this Love so that we might become Its instrument and messenger. Love is who you really are, and this Love is ready to flow whenever you are willing to give yourself to the opening that is your heart.
Throughout our history, humankind has distorted and diminished the essence of divine Love so completely that many have lost their comprehension of It, though they are always and forever an expression of It. We are taught that Love is a commodity, something “out there,” just as many have been taught that God is someone or something “out there.” When Love is distorted in this way, It becomes for many something to get, control, and use to personal advantage. Furthermore, whenever we form a word label for anything, we limit and objectify it, thus separating ourselves from it. Divine Love is more than any word, label, concept, or commodity.
Noted spiritual teacher and author Brugh Joy was an angel in my life. He was a deeply intuitive, creative, and transformative spiritual facilitator. I’ll share more about his impact later on in this chapter. In his book Joy’s Way, he adds clarity to the awareness of divine Love:
To be quickened by Love, the unconditional radiance that emanates from the heart, moves even the most skeptical person into the Transformative Process. It is the energy that uplifts downcast eyes, heals the pain of years of struggle, nourishes the soul in its venture to unite with the Spirit. It is the essence of the cohesive force that binds all things to God. This Love is nonemotional, nonsexual, and nonmental. It has the power to spiritualize instantaneously, imbuing each individual with an expanded experience of universal relationship and universal values. The sensation is one of Divinity, and it does not matter whether rational states comprehend. This Love is the energy that sweeps one toward home, a return to the embrace with God.
To move into the power of Love, know that it is the most elemental aspect of reality of which you can be aware: this holy instant, this very moment. Divine Love includes all we can see, touch, or comprehend, yet it is so much more. It includes all people and sentient beings, yet it is even more. It includes the earth and indeed the entire cosmos, yet it is even more. It is the Reality and Beingness of this very instant. With this awareness, you will gain the keys to the kingdom of unconditional, spiritual Love. This transforms everything into progressively higher states!
A wedding at which I officiated in the mid-’90s stands out in my memory. It wasn’t so much the wedding but a conversation I had with the bride before the ceremony. We were sitting in the bride’s room in a beautiful hotel about thirty minutes before we were to begin. I remember congratulating her on her “big day,” and this seemed to create an opening. She began to share with me that she had been a young adult with no life. She had acne and thin hair. She carried about twenty-five more pounds in body weight than was good for her. She hid herself away, had few friends—mostly just acquaintances—and was very insecure and bored. She went on to explain that on a particularly dreary day for her, she happened to be watching a puppy at play. The puppy was incredibly cute but odd and homely at the same time. This little dog was romping around so confidently, so blissfully, licking her face and lavishing her with unconditional Love. Her heart was won over . . . and in that moment she realized that Life was delivering her a powerful message via that puppy: it was time for her to destroy the list she maintained of personal deficiencies, truly love herself, and just go for it in life. It was time to let her light shine and to live her life confidently, no matter what anyone else might think. It was a defining, transforming moment.
She told me that she took action from that day forward. Did she start going to a gym, get a makeover, or work with a dermatologist? No, not at first. It was clear to her that her first steps were not about repairing appearances but restoring self-assurance. She began resolutely changing her thoughts and feelings about herself, and then she began to shift her behaviors, day by day, step by step. She was determined to be the love she so deeply yearned for, the same love she could gift to her world. She admitted that she did eventually do a number of practical things to support her appearance, but these things weren’t done to try to make her acceptable in her own mind, but as further expressions of her love for herself and her new life. The biggest change, she stated emphatically, was to love herself and to let that love flow to others. Her life changed progressively and rather quickly. And now here she was, at age thirty-two, moments away from marrying someone she loved profoundly. Her story moved me deeply. I couldn’t help thinking that we were about to witness her second marriage; the first was an inner marriage . . . saying “Yes” to the indwelling Beloved.
Every one of us is a potential master in the expression of Love. It is the essence of our true Nature. Yet it is so very easy to lose track of this, to cover it up, and to distort its expression. Since we have so powerfully honed the intellect, it is most tempting to intellectualize Love and think we really know and understand it. There is a teaching story that tells of an acclaimed professor who saw two doors. The first led directly to Love. The second led to an auditorium where a lecture on Love was being given. Without hesitation, he darted into the door to listen to the lecture!
The greatest error, however, is placing Love outside ourselves. Then it becomes something we have to prove ourselves worthy to receive, and we begin to work hard to get it. We mold ourselves to others’ expectations and needs so that they will find us acceptable and give us the love we feel we need. This neediness grows, and so does our attachment and clinging to the objects of love. Then whenever we get hurt, it sears and wounds so deeply because we’ve erroneously concluded that love has been taken from us, and we have long since forgotten how to apply the healing balm of real Love. That’s when we pull back from intimacy and confident living. We might try to act indifferent—“Who needs that so-and-so!” Then it’s typical to heap up the righteous judgments and resentments. It’s a short step to becoming irritable, jealous, and reactive. The heart has become walled off and tightly closed. We lose sight of the true essence of Love and block Its amazing empowerment. C. S. Lewis sums up this kind of scenario:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love . . . and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
True Love is unconditional love. This is Love unburdened from the common distortions . . . the neediness, expectations, price tags, judgments, demands, bargains, manipulations, and dependencies. Unconditional Love is the core essence of the Divine, of God, of the Spirit. As expressions of this God-Life, our deepest, truest essence must also be this pure, unconditional Love. And when we take the momentous step of loving without conditions, profound healings and blessings are revealed. To love unconditionally is to remove all demands and prerequisites for the giving and receiving of love. It is loving the true essence, not merely the outer appearances or justifications.
A teenager shocked everyone around her when she took an overdose of sleeping pills. Her parents, especially, couldn’t believe she’d do this. She was so popular, successful, loving, and obedient. When she regained consciousness, for a while she’d speak only with her doctor. With her permission, he later shared the daughter’s feelings with her parents: “She knew that you thought she was perfect, and she felt that she had to be what you thought she was. But that kind of love isn’t enough. You can’t exist as a reflection of someone else’s needs or dreams. You have to be supported in being your own person.” The lesson: be sure the people in your life know that there is no price tag or demands on your love!
We have been told that the Kingdom of God is within us. This kingdom is omnipresent Love—in us, around us, through us, as us . . . and as all creation. When you verbally or even silently declare, “This Instant Is Love,” a profound opening is made available and you begin to move back into the “kingdom.” You will likely feel a shift, a quickening of your heart, a relaxing and a peacefulness, an expanded sense of vision and meaning. You have moved yourself into this field of spiritual reality that can then guide you and express itself through you. You may notice changes, progress, even healings by simply maintaining this awareness silently yet devotedly. Boundaries and obstacles will soften. Higher realizations will emerge in the alchemy of this Love awareness. Connections of Oneness become palpable, for we are all One in Love, as Love. You will be steadily opening your heart chakra, the center of divine Love in your being and body.
This is the most fundamental and powerful step on the pathway of life mastery. It is, however, not a onetime achievement nor is it a destination. To anchor masterful consciousness and livingness is to dedicate oneself to continually opening the heart and to practicing this “instant Love.” (A powerful heart-opening exercise is available to you in the concluding chapter of this book, “This Mastery Is Heart.”)
As we activate the truth—This Instant Is Love—and feel it quickening the heart, moving us into Its opening, we deliver ourselves out of the trances of separation, worldly limitation, and ego-mindedness. We immerse ourselves in a solvent that progressively dissolves the years of distortions that placed Love outside of ourselves, others, and each instant. We embrace the most essential healing of all, and gain the capacity to become emissaries of Love and Oneness. We begin living the heart-centered life.
The Love that is God is an ember in each of us that will never go out. It awaits the surrendering of aggressive forcing, the releasing of fear and neediness, along with the fresh air of the open heart so that It may be kindled into an amazing energy for Good. Our lives are masterful and blessed to the degree that we realize:
— This Instant IS Love. —
– The Experience –
Early in my life I was given the realization that Love is the only Reality. Then I forgot it and had to relearn it later. This is the way it is for most people.
I Was Six Years Old
It was a beautiful summer day. My father had just finished mowing the lawn. It felt so good to lie on that warm, freshly cut grass, to bask in its musky fragrance. I remember gazing up at the blue sky and the occasional clouds that were spread like brushstrokes. Then it happened. It was as if I was no more; I was pulled totally into the scene, and the worldly Roger was gone. Now I was the sky and the clouds and the lawn and the sunlight. I have no idea how long this immersion experience lasted in chronological time; however, the depth of the experience felt timeless. When I was thrust back into my local self, my personal awareness, I felt so completely disoriented and shaken that I clenched the grass tightly with both hands just to get a sense of stability. It felt like I had died, but obviously that wasn’t the case. When I stood up I felt light-headed and wobbly. For the next several days I continued to feel slightly disoriented. At that age there was no way for me to understand this experience and I was frightened that it might return. It seemed so unusual that I hid it away and told no one.
Years later I felt drawn to study the experiences and insights of mystics throughout history. I was struck by their accounts of an occurrence that was quite common among them. In their own unique ways, they described their experience of the collapse of the subject/object paradigm, and with that the experience that some called “no self.” In their poetic, mystical language, many of them proclaimed that this “no self” was actually an experience of their “Universal Self,” their true Self. Reading this, I now had a basis to understand what had happened to me on that summer day when I was six. Since I was so young and was less attached to the three-dimensional framework of things, I was able to let go and stumble into a unitive experience. The most significant thing about it was that the experience left me changed. From that time on I remember absolutely knowing that there is an Ultimate Source, Spirit, or Life permeating this universe and It is Love, a Love that is wondrous and within all of life. Though I couldn’t articulate this in my younger years, it was still an inner certainty. I didn’t know how I knew it and I certainly had no way of justifying it then, but nevertheless I knew. Furthermore, I was given a knowing that this omnipresent Source was safe and caring beyond anything that could be explained. It was as if all this was downloaded into me. Interestingly, in talking about this experience over the years, others have shared with me that they had similar spiritual experiences in their youth.
It wasn’t long after that experience on our front lawn that I told my bewildered parents that I was, all of a sudden, very interested in spirituality and wanted to attend church. They weren’t churchgoers at the time, but they allowed me to walk to any of the many churches in our neighborhood. I didn’t really understand much of what was said, but I enjoyed the atmosphere of Spirit. The older I got, however, the more I felt a dissonance. The traditional theologies I was hearing did not match the energies and knowingness that had been seeded in me. I had experienced something that would not let me go and would compel me to continue to search.
I Was in Love, or So I Thought
It was 1981 and I was twenty-nine years old. I was in the early years of my ministerial career and had been in a three-year relationship with a beautiful girl. Just before the Christmas holidays, we decided that early in the New Year we would announce our engagement to family, friends, and my congregation. My soon-to-be fiancée then went to Ohio to share Christmas with her half sister. When I picked her up at the airport after this holiday trip, however, she seemed distant. She’s probably just tired, I thought. Several days later I came home after work to discover that everything of hers had been removed from my townhome, and there was a note from her. She wrote that our relationship was over and that I was not to try to call her or connect with her again. It was, plain and simple, over.
I was stunned, shocked. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe it was a joke, though not a very good one. So despite her instructions, I called her anyway. Her mother answered and told me that she didn’t know what had happened, either, but that her daughter was very clear. Indeed . . . it was over. The disbelief then turned into intense grief. I was engulfed in a pain that was enormous, more than anything I’d ever experienced.
After about six weeks of despair, my pain began to alternate with bouts of immense anger. This devolved to the point where I proclaimed openly that she had been unbelievably cruel and that I flat-out hated her. My awareness was becoming more and more toxic. I wasn’t sleeping well and my appetite was hit or miss. My prayer life was at a standstill, and my creativity had evaporated. This went on for four or five months. I put on a good public front but, in truth, I was a mess, and I was endangering my well-being and my cherished career in the ministry.
A really good friend will tell you the truth. That’s what saved me during this downward spiral. I was having a beer with a buddy—a true friend. He was enduring yet another of my tirades of victimhood and self-pity. Finally he reached his limit. When I paused to catch my breath, he seized the moment. He said, “You know, Rog, you share some profound and powerful spiritual teachings and tools. Maybe you ought to try using some of them!” My initial instinct was to knock him off his barstool. How could he be so callous of my feelings, so insensitive to my wounding? But deep down, I knew he was right. It was high time for me to explore the deeper meanings in this experience. It was time for me to find an opening for healing and growth.
I began to consult with professionals who could assist me in sorting things out. The first realization of great impact was my admission that the relationship with this lady wasn’t all I was touting it to be. In truth, it was more a relationship of convenience and dependency. (And she was a really gorgeous woman, at that!) But I had deluded myself because I couldn’t imagine letting the relationship go since I felt so needy of her love.
Beyond that, I also began to realize the nature of most of my relationships up to that point. Truthfully, those I was in relationships with couldn’t get very close to me. I controlled the intimacy levels continually and expertly through superficial activities and my workaholic tendencies. When anyone tried to press through this, I found one way or another to end the relationship.
This led to the crowning and transformative realization that through the course of my young adulthood—and especially following my parents’ divorce—I had walled off my heart. I was a loving enough person, and I talked a lot about love. Nevertheless, my heart was highly protected and mostly closed. I began to realize that what had seemed like the most brutal of betrayals was actually an invitation to a reconnection with the Love I had come to know at age six on my parents’ front lawn. It was an invitation to the greatest opening . . . the opening of my heart.
There’s a lot of truth in the adage that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. When I reached this point in the healing process, my heart was already in its early stages of opening. But I needed more help. Serendipitously, I became aware of the work of Brugh Joy, whose major emphasis was on the activation of the heart chakra. I felt ready to take the leap. I booked myself into his two-week transformational experience held in the high desert of California.
You Want Me to Do What?
That was my initial reaction when Brugh announced midway through the two-week conference that I and the other thirty participants were to go out into the desert for two full days and nights. We were to fast and to drink only water. Also while in the desert, we were to find “our teacher” out there in nature, whether it be an animal, a cactus, or whatever. I was flabbergasted. I paid good money for you to be my teacher! I thought. And you want us to hang out for two days in that godforsaken desert? And fast? My anger surfaced anew. I grabbed some water and my sleeping bag and stomped out into the surrounding desert. I kicked up dirt, threw rocks, and screamed angrily. I didn’t know where to go so I just wandered for hours as I cursed the whole experience over and over again.
As night fell, I also fell . . . into the pits of depression. Nothing seemed to matter or make sense anymore. At one point, I noticed a rabbit running by in the fading dusk, and thought, You don’t matter, rabbit. In a few months you’ll probably be dead. What will it matter that you lived at all? I cried off and on. I yearned for a sense of God’s Presence but couldn’t seem to feel it. I felt drained and empty . . . much like the seeker in the opening story when he could fight no longer. What would become of me, and where was my life going?
I slept off and on that night, mostly fitfully. At daybreak, I felt numb but no longer angry.
I meditated for a while while then wandered some, then prayed and meditated some more. By midafternoon, I felt a shift. I no longer resented the desert. In fact, I was beginning to notice its beauty and life energy. Then this intensified. I could see the life energy flowing as everything, much as when you can see waves of intense heat, though it wasn’t hot enough that day for heat waves. No, these were waves of essential energy at the heart of everything, and I could see it and feel it. Everything took on heightened life for me. That night I lay in my sleeping bag looking up at the stars with tears rolling down my face. It was all so utterly magnificent to me. I had reentered the heart and soul of life, in me and all around me.
Brugh had instructed us that we were all to meet at the top of a hill at dawn of the third day. We were to chant “OM” as we celebrated the sunrise together. As I joined the group on that hilltop and entered into the chant, my heart chakra flew wide open. Waves of Love cascaded through me. It was a familiar Love, but an experience I had blocked for far too long. It was one of the most rapturous experiences of my life. It left an unmistakable and enduring mark within my awareness. Love would forever mean so much more to me, more than words can adequately convey. Mark Twain once wrote: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” This experience became a touchstone for what became my personal mission, why I came here this time around: heart-centered living.
The ego defends against love. This faulty sense of self fears losing control, fears risking true intimacy lest the depths of inadequacy were to be found out. When we give ourselves to Love, however, everything changes for the better. Following the conference with Brugh, so many blessings began to fill my life. As I maintained a heart-opening practice, my relationships improved dramatically, and eventually I opened myself to the incomparable love of my wife. Then our family became a glorious opportunity for fulfilling love. My experience of the Divine, the infinite Beloved, continues to expand and deepen. My ministry has also continued to grow to levels I would never have imagined. My joy in life is more steady and unshakeable. I know “the peace that passes all human understanding.”
This has been my journey, coming full circle back to the fulfillment of that initiatory experience at the hands of Love at age six. This journey has taught me, ever so clearly, that I could not be more loved. Think about this for a moment: You cannot be more loved! Unfathomable Love surrounds and indwells us all, and this Love never has to be earned and cannot be lost. To take this in—really allow it in—is to immerse oneself in the greatest mystery and miracle of all. There is nothing more healing than this experience, and from this place of being loved flows all true happiness, creativity, joy, and peace. Our only job is to learn to keep our hearts open, activated, and warmed. The highest and best will then take care of itself in the most powerful and blessed of ways.
Emmet Fox, a great metaphysician and prolific author, proclaims the radical wonder of divine Love for every person who is ready to attune to Love in any instant:
There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
No disease that enough love will not heal;
No door that enough love will not open;
No gulf that enough love will not bridge;
No wall that enough love will not throw down;
No sin that enough love will not redeem.
It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble . . .
How hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle,
How great the mistake;
A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. . . .
If only you could love enough,
You would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world!
And Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the excommunicated Catholic priest, mystic, and author of The Phenomenon of Man, proclaims the radical wonder of divine Love for our shared future:
Someday, after we have mastered the winds and the waves and the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of Love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
– The Expression –
To Establish Yourself in an Ever-Increasing Expression of This First Opening into Life Mastery, Here Are Three Practices:
1. Make this first opening a mantra of empowerment. Throughout your day affirm, This Instant Is Love. Be sensitive to the inner shift that occurs. Look through the eyes of this perspective and follow its energy with your choices. If you choose, set a timer or a soft alarm to go off on the hour or half hour. Let the tone signal you to return to this freeing awareness. And especially if you find yourself in difficulty or conflict, let that remind you to initiate this opening and to remain with great dedication in its space of mastery.
2. Perhaps you’ll find further inspiration from considering a poem that came to me:
When I embrace my wounds and allow them to heal . . .
I have no impulse to injure you.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Openings into Life Mastery: A Short Story 1
Part 2 Seven Pillars of Truth
Chapter 1 This Instant Is Love 15
Chapter 2 This Being Is Light 32
Chapter 3 This World Is Consciousness 43
Chapter 4 This Idea Is Substance 61
Chapter 5 This Relationship Is Oneness 81
Chapter 6 This Journey Is Surrender 99
Chapter 7 This Life Is joy 113
Seven Pillars of Truth: A Spiritual Practice 131
Part 3 Nine Portals of Transformation
Chapter 8 This Fear Is Friend 135
Chapter 9 This Problem Is Possibility 154
Chapter 10 This Judgment Is Yearning 170
Chapter 11 This Conflict Is Forgiveness 185
Chapter 12 This Disease Is Discovery 205
Chapter 13 This Change Is Birth 224
Chapter 14 This Uncertainty Is Magic 251
Chapter 15 This Desire Is Fulfillment 271
Chapter 16 This Risk Is Greatness 296
Conclusion: This Mastery Is Heart 325
What People are Saying About This
“Reverend Roger Teel has woven his long experience and wise ministry into this well-thought-out book about substance, relationship, and journey—and, above all, about how the spirit within us meets the spirit in the world.”
—Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakening
"This inspiring and powerful book overflows with life-changing spiritual lessons and timeless wisdom. Written with compassion, authenticity and eloquence, This Life is Joy is a gift to seekers everywhere. I highly recommend it."
—Barbara De Angelis Ph.D. , #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Real Moments and How Did I Get Here?
“Roger Teel has accomplished what so few authors are able to do. He doesn't just write about This Life Is Joy, he provides a road map to get you there. His detailed description of how the creative process works will give you confidence to turn your best ideas into dreams comes true. This Life is Joy is a master’s guide to living well and being happy.”
—Dr. Chris Michaels, author of The Power of You
"[This Life is Joy] offers an inspirational sampling of metaphysical thought, stories, and advice. A natural storyteller... Teel doesn't draw from just one well; he references a wide array of wisdom traditions and spiritual thinkers, including Bible passages, Deepak Chopra, and Shel Silverstein. Teel shares valuable lessons from all corners. Teel's message remains constant throughout: all experiences can be transformed into opportunities for greater peace and joy."
“Since antiquity, wisdom teachers have guided the seeker inward because it is only there that the authentic joy of a life truly worth living can be found. The skill lies in actualizing that joy, bringing it from the center of our being to the surface of our everyday lives. Roger Teel is, without a doubt, one of the greatest spiritual teachers and storytellers of our time; he understands the sacred connection between the heart and the head, the inner and the outer, the soul and the body...and the importance of integrating them as one. As you read This Life is Joy, know you have hired a master guide you can trust to show you the way to the joy-filled life you so richly deserve.”
—Dennis Merritt Jones, author of Your (Re)Defining Moments
“When, in our ongoing quest for a better life, one finds themself seeking clarity, direction or understanding, this wonderful book This Life is Joy is the book to pick up. In this marvelous book, Roger Teel encapsulates, articulates, and describes not only the issues and the core of the missing pieces to live more powerfully, lovingly, and happily, but also the practice and processes required to overcome one’s innate reticence to living in joy. This book is destined to become a spiritual classic for its ability not only to awaken the individual, but also to provide a descriptive and clear pathway for rising above the sleepy ennui of a life half lived. Roger Teel has found a way to bring his own balance, wisdom, and deep connection with life to form in this marvelous expression of life. I strongly recommend that you not only read it, but indeed, practice it.”
—Rev. Dr. Kenn Gordon, Spiritual Leader for Centers for Spiritual Living
“Dr. Roger Teel has a beautiful, down-to-earth style of speaking and connecting with his audience in an easy, intimate way. His words in This Life Is Joy do the same. He invites me, the reader, into an adventure of personal discovery, but with the confidence that someone who has already done the work is going to travel with me by means of the pages in the book. Sincerity and thoughtfulness seep out of the words and the call to find a way to serve and care for others reminds the reader of Dr. Teel's central message—that there is no other action that establishes us in love more powerfully or reliably than that of heartfelt giving to others.”
—Edward Viljoen, author of The Power of Meditation
“This is not just another book on spirituality. This is an infusion of vision, hope, and reality. I found myself growing with every word. Roger Teel translates spiritual concepts you may have heard, and turns them into an excitement and comfort you feel in your bloodstream. Inhale this book and you will inhale a life that finally makes sense on every level.”
—Tama Kieves, author of Inspired & Unstoppable
“No easy feat to simultaneously engage both veteran seekers and those first dawning to their own light, but that is exactly what Roger Teel does here. His story-wisdom-telling technique invites readers to absorb their healing whole—like oxygen—or parse it out as a lifestyle technology by which process delivers result. Ultimately, Teel weaves sense out of the false dichotomy between ‘life in the world,’ and inner peace by gently unraveling their connection at the core. Not only does this book hand over the keys to a successful life, it does so by tapping the spiritual courage to redefine altogether what that means.”
—Dr. Barbara E. Fields, Executive Director at the Association for Global New Thought and Program Director for Parliament of the World's Religions Centennial Celebration, Synthesis Dialogues, and Gandhi King Season for Nonviolence
“With such clearly delineated expressions of Spiritual Principle, Dr. Roger Teel brings forth an instant classic to the realm of New Thought writing. Each of his Seven Pillars of Truth and Nine Portals of Transformation provides greater understanding of the quintessential elements that exist within a meaningful and fulfilling life. What a joyous journey!”
—Dr. John B. Waterhouse, President of Centers for Spiritual Living
“This powerful jewel of a guide for heart-centered living is a precious tool for each of us. It invites us—with intensely-moving stories and life-changing spiritual principles—to live that perfect life of joy here and now. Read it and you will be changed at depth.”
—Edwene Gaines, author of The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity
“Happiness, peace, and joy are spiritual concepts—and attainable. In this book, Roger Teel does a brilliant job in providing a gentle hand-on-your shoulder road map. The truths and strategies outlined in this book are both simple and profound. Do not just read this book—put these principles into practice and you will attain everlasting peace and joy.”
—Azim N. Khamisa
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